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Another highlight of the year is on its way at the end of January with the 24‑hour race at Daytona (26th-29th January), in which the Mercedes-AMG GT3 will debut in the IMSA WeatherTec SportsCar Championship.
Off to Daytona: Thomas Jäger will line up this weekend in the 24-Hours of Daytona (26th - 29th January). He is one of three AMG drivers supporting Team Riley Motorsports - WeatherTech #racing in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 50 along with Adam Christodoulou (Riley Motorsports Team AMG 33) and Maro Engel (SunEnergy1 #racing 75). Race start Saturday 2:30 pm, local time.
Three questions for Thomas Jäger, Mercedes-AMG Test and Development driver
Thomas, you were principally involved in preparing the North American premiere of the Mercedes-AMG GT3. How do you feel now just before the start?
Thomas Jäger: We’re obviously very pleased to be making our debut outing in this well‑established high-calibre race, the 24-Hours of Daytona, with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, marking the 50th anniversary of AMG. We were able to convince several North American teams of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3’s qualities, not least because of its outstanding success in 2016. Three Mercedes-AMG GT3s will be in the Daytona line-up, and another team will contest this season’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 will also make its debut in the Pirelli World Challenge. In conjunction with the expansion of support services in North America, we are able to offer teams there the same high and comprehensive standard of support as in Europe from the very outset.
What will be particularly important at the Daytona International Speedway?
Thomas Jäger: What’s special about the Daytona track is the large amount of time spent at top speed and the banked turns which put a lot of stress on running gear. We’ll be lining up in the GTD class. This means, unlike in Europe, that cars in the prototype class which are even faster than us will also be in the field. It’s important as a driver to adjust accordingly and also to make sure not to waste time when you’re being overtaken. Deploying the right tactics when positioning the vehicle will also play a role. You have to try not to drive down the straights in the slipstream of fellow competitors, and, at the same time, you have to use the slipstream of the prototype vehicles as best you can.
What are your chances in the race?
Thomas Jäger: I’m really looking forward to my first outing in Daytona and to working with Riley Motorsports. The team have prepared the vehicles really well, and all of their structures and procedures are excellent. Working with them is great fun. Also, we are able to field an excellent overall package of experienced and successful drivers on the grid. I hope to see a Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the podium at the end of the 24 hours. That would make it a very successful first outing for us.
Highlights of the 2017 Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports season
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 exceeded all expectations in 2016, its debut year, with wins and championship victories all around the world. It’s important to build on those successes in 2017. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Pirelli World Challenge are new to AMG’s race schedule. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is making its debut in North America’s two most important sports car #racing series.
24-hour race at the Nürburgring: Mercedes-AMG made history last year with their historic quadruple victory. That’s going to be hard to beat in 2017, but the teams will again do their utmost in the 45th running of the ADAC Zurich 24-hr race (25th - 28th May 2017) on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. AMG team BLACK FALCON will line up as defending champions in this classic of the motor #racing season.
24-hour race, Spa-Francorchamps: An action-packed race, a very odd final phase and second place – that sums up 2016 for Mercedes-AMG in this marathon event, staged on the Ardennes roller-coaster. The high-performance brand from Affalterbach intends to fight hard again for victory in 2017. The race at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit takes place 27th - 30th June.
24-hr series: The Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams have already very successful contested one of the first highlights of the year, finishing third overall and taking victory in the Pro-Am class at the 24-Hours of Dubai in mid-January. Three extra races as compared to 2016 will be staged in the Creventic 24-hr series in 2017 with meetings taking place at the Red Bull Ring, in Portimão and at COTA in the USA with the final round. Hofor #racing customer team intend to defend their team and driver titles in 2017.
ADAC GT Masters: Fourth place last season in the team rankings for AMG Team ZAKSPEED, who won the championship in 2015. The old-established team are aiming to finish back on top again in 2017. A highlight of the ADAC GT Masters season will be the meeting at the Lausitzring to be held jointly with the DTM on the weekend of 19th - 21st May.
Blancpain GT Series: Team and drivers’ championship for AMG Team HTP Motorsport in the 2016 season in one of the most hard-fought GT3 series. Apart from the 24-hour race at Spa, the Paul Ricard 1,000-km race (23rd/24th June) will be one of the highlights of this race series which is both an endurance and sprint series.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: The North American IMSA #racing series is new to Mercedes-AMG’s #racing calendar. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be making its debut this weekend in the 24-Hours of Daytona. Other highlights of the race series include the 12-Hours of Sebring (15th -18th March), the Watkins Glen 6-hour race (29th June - 3rd July) and the Petit Le Mans (4th - 7th October).
Pirelli World Challenge: The Mercedes-AMG GT3 will also make its #racing debut this season in the Pirelli World Challenge. Until now, it’s been the Mercedes-Benz SLS #amggt3 that has flown the flag for Mercedes-AMG in the North American #racing series, taking the drivers’ and team titles in the GTA class in 2015.
Super GT Series: The Mercedes-AMG GT3 celebrated its maiden victory and two more podium finishes in last year’s Japanese Super GT Series. The Asian customer teams are aiming to build on that success in 2017.
VLN Long-distance Championship: The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was able to secure two overall wins as well as three second and two third places in 2016 on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the world’s most demanding race track which many call the Green Hell. The 6-hour race on 19th August 2017 will be a highlight of the VLN season.
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